Children have been put to cute movie use fixing up adults’ busted marriages as far back as The Parent Trap, but House Arrest is strictly the product of an era when ”Sorry You Feel Bad” greeting cards meant for children whose parents are splitting up are available next to ”Congratulations for Dumping the Creep” sentiments meant for plucky divorcees.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak star in this deeply tacky family comedy as the Beindorfs, a nice couple who, for nebulous reasons, plan to separate. Kyle Howard and Amy Sakasitz play their distressed son and daughter, who get the bright idea to lock Mom and Dad in the basement until they can work things out. So appealing is this plan to other neighborhood kids that they herd their crummy, infantile elders in with the Beindorfs, too, for some enforced group therapy.
House Arrest — written by Michael Hitchcock, and directed like a traffic cop by Harry Winer — is too negligible a bit of entertainment to waste time talking about what a disservice it does to real issues of divorce. But in its small way, it’s an insidious piece of late-summer cultural junk. D-